Sunday, June 1, 2008

Father Pfleger: A Symptom of the Fall of Catholicism

I am a Catholic. However, increasingly, the Catholic church has become the church of "do what I say" and NOT "what I do." I think this fact, alone, is the reason that the Church membership is in decline.

I have watched as selected Catholics, usually the wealthy and the politically connected, get their "blessing" from the "Church" for divorcing and remarrying when the average "Joe-Catholic" would get excommunicated for doing the same. I see Catholic politicians get a pass when they publicly vote for abortion laws that are in a direct contradiction with the precepts of the Catholic Church and the 10 Commandments. And, of course, there is the ever-haunting issue of priests and pedophilia and the efforts of the Church leadership in this country to cover it up and move priests around so that they can recommit the same crime, over-and-over, again.

This week "saw" another public display of the "not what I do" form of Catholicism. The display was from a Catholic activist priest in the City of Chicago by the name of Michael Pfleger. Speaking by invitation at Obama/Wright's "Church" (?) in Chicago, Pfleger proved, once again, that the Catholic Church lacks the moral compass that it expects you or I to follow. In a hate-filled and racist speech by this Priest, Hillary Clinton was excoriated and mocked by this so-called "shepherd" of the Catholic Church (See video clip). There was no religious teaching or redeeming "anything" in his "secularist" stand-up routine. Four days after the fact and "only after" the video was aired nationally, "Father" (?) Pfleger decided to apologize for his apparent non-spontaneous and absolutely "intentional" performance; a performance that was well received, applauded, and loudly cheered on by the membership of this "racist" church and the church of our wannabe President, Barack Obama. Then, to top it off, the timid leader of the Catholic Church in Chicago, Cardinal George, came out with another "toothless" statement about Pfleger's actions (See story). I say "toothless" because Pfleger has embarrassed the Catholic Church for years and Cardinal George (and his predecessor) have done nothing. It's typical.

All too often the Catholic Church places too much emphasis on "confession" and "absolution" as a means of getting forgiveness for "repeated" offenses. I think this I-am-sorry "belief system" was at the heart of the Priest/pedophilia scandal and the reason that these crimes against humanity were covered up and why the priests were moved around and hardly ever defrocked. It is a mindset that seems to ignore the "prime directive" of "trying" to be a good Christian at all times. I believe God understands that we will have "weak" moments and is willing to forgive. However, I don't think He is as forgiving to those that "hollowly" (not hallowed-ly) enter a Catholic Church, confess their same sins to a priest in a confessional, and quickly say a few prayers in repentance. But, that is what the world "sees" or "thinks" (or worse) when a figure so publicly, like Pfleger, is allowed to repeat his behavior without any formal consequence from the leadership of the Church.

Throughout Christ's life, he taught through "example" and by His convincing words. There was no formal place that He called a Church. He did not go door-to-door to "sell" his beliefs. The people "came" to Him because they saw the goodness in the "way" of His life and in His preachings of love for God and for all our fellow humans. In contrast, the Catholic Church is losing its followers. They are not coming to hear the message because the message has become "flawed." The Church's actions have flawed it. Maybe, the Catholic Church should get back to the "examples" of Christ as a "means" of stopping its apparent decline in this country and throughout the world.

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